The Silvan

nimruzir

Chapter 037

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Author's notes:

Honestly, thank you all so very much. I am afraid I lost control of which reviews I had answered, so if I didn't answer yours, please forgive me. You all know by know that I like to answer everyone.

Ah, and sorry for the cliffy - but I have to cut the chapter somewhere, and that seemed like the best place to do it :))) To compensate, here is a nice long chapter, for your enjoyment.

Rita Orca: thank you for being such a motivating reviewer - and keep that vocabulary coming :))

Guest 1345: thanks! My age? gulp, ehem, eh, older than you!

Chapter thirty-seven: The Protege

The shining face was so beautiful it brought a tear to his eye and he wondered for a moment if he were dreaming of Valinor once more, but no; this was not the Blessed Land, it was Arda, and it was no Vala that stood before him now but an elf.

White blond hair cascaded in thick rivulets, down past the elf's hips, a mantle of such splendour none had seen before and if Legolas had once been beautiful, now, he was beyond description, at least to Elladan's confused mind.

He could not fathom how this could be, how the elf could have suffered such a transformation in the four days he had been away. The changes were clear for all to see - his hair much longer than it had been before and he could not help but cast a furtive glance at his father, who he did not doubt knew more than he had let on.

This eyes were soon back on the elf before him and his eyes dropped to the naked, muscled torso, the simple black breeches and then his bare feet. He was restrained power, silent strength and beauty beyond compare - he seemed unreal, ethereal beyond the reasonable and Elladan knew not what to do, what to say, and so he stood in silence as his rational mind toiled with the overload of visual stimulus.

Idhrenohtar was the first to react, stepping forward and draping his cloak over the naked skin, pulling the hood over the shining elf and pulling on his arm. Soon, he was joined by Elrond, who nodded at the Wise Warrior.

"Come," was all he said, and soon enough, the cloaked elf was led away, into the house and to a private room, where Elrond now sat, together with Mithrandir. Idhrenohtar and the rest of The Company had been sent away, but that had not stopped them from taking up guard outside the room, for what right did the Noldorin lord have to banish them? they had asked, their anger patent but it had not deterred the lord in his determination to keep them away.

Legolas lay draped over a long settee, his hair streaming down to the floor, eyes vacant in sleep.

"I do not think he has slept for the entire time he has been away," said Elrond as he watched the insensate figure pensively.

"How is this possible, Mithrandir? asked Glorfindel, his own eyes still unable to move away from the Silvan.

"Mithrandir's wise, shrewd eyes were unfocussed as he thought.

"It is this physical change that confirms my suspicions, Glorfindel," he began carefully. "Your descriptions of what happened in Celebrian's gardens was already highly indicative but this," he gestured with his hands, "this is undeniably the work of the Valar," he said, as if what he himself was saying were impossible.

"There is a, detail, we have not yet mentioned, Mithrandir, for with all that has happened, with all we had to tell you of…"

"What detail, Elrond?" asked the wizard as he sat forward.

"He draws," began Elrond, "line drawings that in spite of their simplicity, are startlingly representative; he keeps them in a diary of sorts. One morning, this journal was open upon the table and I found Glorfindel here, staring at it in shock for you see," he said meaningfully, "there was a drawing - a sketch of a woman of great beauty. Her hair was longer than her own body, wild and untamed, and her eyes seemed to sparkle. I thought I knew who it was, and indeed, Glorfindel's shock was all the confirmation I needed. There was no doubt in my mind that that drawing was of Yavanna…"

"Did you ask him," asked Mithrandir urgently, "did you ask him why he had drawn it?" he said, his gaze heavy.

"Oh yes. He said he had seen her in a dream…"

Mithrandir sat back, his blue eyes twinkling in understanding. "It is as I had thought then," he said in awe, before his eyes focussed and he looked first at Glorfindel and then at Elrond.

"What is it?" asked Glorfindel, "tell us what you know, Mithrandir," he said somewhat curtly.

"He is a Protege…"

"A what?" asked Elrond in confusion.

"An elf who garners the protection of a Vala…"

Both elves frowned, looking to each other in utter puzzlement before rounding on Mithrandir.

"Why would a Vala protect Legolas?" asked Elrond, his own apprehension clear. "He surely does not need protection…. does he?" he asked, suddenly unsure.

"To be a Protege, Elrond, it comes with a price. I should know, for I am one…" he said simply.

Elrond and Glorfindel stood in stunned silence. Aye they knew Mithrandir was an Ainur, a servant of the Valar, but that he was protected by a Vala…

"Who," said Glorfindel, "who protects you?", a strange fear taking hold of him.

"Manwe is my Vala, Glorfindel."

"But, why, what is the purpose then, why name a Protege? I mean surely it is not simply a whim…"

"A whim? oh no, my friend," said the wizard with a benevolent smile. "To be a Protege is a great gift, but as I said, it comes with a price."

"And what is the price?" whispered Elrond.

"A Protege is chosen to fulfil a purpose, Elrond. I cannot disclose mine, not yet, and Legolas may well not yet understand his. The fact remains that this purpose, this cause, will override all else in his life. He will live to uphold it, even if he must disobey his lords, forfeit that which he holds dearest, even unto his own death if that is what it takes."

Mithrandir's words were met with silence, and then a deep breath as Elrond stood and turned to the window. "Life has been cruel to him - even the Valar have not seen fit to give him respite."

"Nay, Elrond. That is not it at all. It is a gift, even though you cannot see that now. I do not say it is not a sacrifice, for it is, but there will be boons, too. But look beyond these things, my friend, for is it not true that the boy seems to have been born with the idea of serving, of being a captain, a warrior so that he may protect his people?"

"That is what they say, yes."

"Then you see. The Valar have chosen well. He chose that road, in spite of the Valar. All they have done is help him along the way, give him a greater sense of purpose, if that is possible."

Glorfindel stood abruptly, before striding from the room in silence, walking past the expectant elves outside without a care for their failed attempts at garnering his attention. Soon, he was walking away from the house, away from the presence of elves, away from it all, and with every step he took, his anger ignited and inflamed, and when he was finally alone, he damned Mithrandir, Thranduil, damned Lassiel, damned even Oropher and above all, he damned the Valar, for what right did they have? Between them all they had made an extraordinary elf, had moulded him into what he was just yesterday. By his own merits he had slowly been finding a sense of equilibrium, of peace, only to have it utterly shattered and his world twisted once more.

What boon is this? he sneered in disgust. Have you no heart? he pleaded as he hung his head in grief for the child that was the nearest thing to a son he would ever have.

TSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTS

Thranduil's court was teaming, brimming with councillors and legislators, lords and ladies, commanders and captains, all of them decked in their most distinguished attire, their jewels on display for the first time in many years, for through the cycles of Thranduil's grief, there had been no events worthy enough to don them.

And so the Sindar milled here and there, stopping to chat, their eyes wandering to the Silvan councillors and their companions who did likewise, although their mannerisms were clearly different, for where the Sindar were refined and muted, bejewelled and opulent, the Silvans were effusive and passionate, simple and unadorned, save for their hair, where they would wear all imaginable shapes and sizes of flowers and vines, coloured cords and even river stones.

Most of the Sindar watched them in interest, some in amusement even, and others with a sneer that would not be veiled.

And Aradan watched it all, wishing his disciple, Prince Handir, could be here so that he may learn. He smiled softly at the thought of the Prince, for a great affection joined them, and Aradan held much respect for the young elf who, although an adult, was still not counted amongst the worldly wise. Still he had achieved great things, but the most important to Aradan, was that he had reached that point where one is able to look past the veil of self; see and analyse things from above, without the prejudice of one's own beliefs. It was no small feat and yet Handir had done just that with the appearance of his half brother.

Turning, he saw Tirion, dressed in his formal uniform that marked him as a Sindarin Captain. Gesturing to him, he greeted the warrior warmly.

"How are things at the barracks, Tirion? Is city life agreeing with you, or is the great open wild calling you?" he asked with a smirk.

Tirion returned it. "Well, a bit of both I suppose. Aye I miss the young ones but this was the price I paid so that Legolas could pursue his training - that is payment enough," he smiled and Aradan nodded. Indeed that was exactly what the captain had done, a boon that Commander Celegon had wrought from him, in exchange for sending Legolas to Imladris.

"What an event," said the captain absently as he watched the elves around him.

"Aye," said Aradan. It promises to be - interesting at the least," he said a little evasively and Tirion turned to him in askance.

"There has been little forthcoming knowledge on the summit, Lord Aradan. The warriors are anxious that perhaps something has happened, and the Lords reckon new trade routes are to be opened. Yet it is the Silvans that puzzle me," he said with a frown.

Aradan turned to the Captain and studied him for a moment. "How so? What do they say?" he asked.

"That is the point. They do not; they say nothing - they simply smile, as if they know something the rest of us do not. True there are many who are oblivious, but I tell you, something strange is happening and I would wager on the truth of it," he turned now, his eyes sparkling with a challenge, and Aradan nodded.

"You would not be wrong, Captain. It is done - Legolas knows, and so too, does our King."

Tirion blew out a noisy breath. "Well, that is a relief, at least, although dare I ask the King's reaction?"

Aradan shook his head, "I cannot disclose that now, Tirion, but you are about to find out, that much I can promise," he said, his head gesturing now to the open doors of the great Council Hall, where the king now stood.

A collective gasp echoed around the now, utterly silent hall, for there, standing in all his Sindarin glory, was Thranduil Oropherion, as he had not been seen in centuries, and Aradan beamed and shone in joy and pride, as Tirion simply gaped, and then lowered his head in respect.

For years, centuries, Thranduil had walked the fortress in silence, his light muted, his voice curt and inexpressive. It had become the norm, and although he had still been respected, he had become a beautiful shadow, sad and bereft - nothing at all comparable to the imposing figure that now stood in silence before them.

A shimmering silver vest of thin, exquisite armour, lay over a sky blue shirt of fine silk, and a skirt of muted violet that reached down to his calves. His cloak was of a beautiful moss green, so long it hung behind him and pooled upon the polished stone floor in a short trail, and upon his head of silver hair, lay the crown he had not worn since the Queen had left, hugging his face and cheekbones as would a lover's hands.

At his hip, sat a mighty sword Aradan knew had been Oropher's and as the king began to walk down the centre of the hall, all he passed bowed low, their faces showing their awe and respect. If Thranduil had been looking to make a statement, he had certainly passed the test, for everything about him screamed 'I am back, strong, invincible,'.

Three loud, dull thuds marked the commencement of the summit, and it fell to Aradan to pronounce the onset of the talks and so, with a nod at Tirion, he moved into the centre of the circle of speakers and opened his arms to the crowds.

"My Lords, Ladies, Warriors and Merchants, subjects all. Please be welcome to the court of our King Thranduil Oropherion," said Aradan in his loud, clear voice, practised and honed over many centuries of political service.

"Today, we commence what we have called the Greenwood Summit, for we hope it will be the first of many, to be held every three years. Its purpose?" he asked somewhat theatrically, thus assuring himself the continued attention of them all, "to bring together the representatives of the Sindar, the Silvan and Avarin people; to share our problems, our worries, to solve our problems and lend aid, wherever it may be needed, so that The Greenwood may be great once more, that she prosper to the best of her abilities. For this, we have called upon you, good elves of The Greenwood. Together we will pave the way for a better land, a more just and prosperous society."

Here he stopped and waited for the timid applause to dwindle.

"For today, our King Thranduil has an announcement to make. After, an inquiry into the state of the land will be heard and documented, so that tomorrow, we may begin the talks."

Turning, and gesturing to the king, Aradan stepped aside and all eyes fell to the shockingly beautiful figure of their imposing monarch.

Lord Bandorion, brother of Oropher himself, in spite of his opposition to this king, could not deny his beauty and strength. He cast a sideways glance at his son, Barathon, and his close friend Draugole, an expression upon his face that was not easy to read, for if Bandorion was good at one thing, it was in the art of masking the truth. Thus the Sindarin purists stood together, their sympathisers close by, watching, and waiting with baited breath for the announcement that the king would make.

"My Lords, Ladies, Warriors and Merchants. I welcome you warmly to my court, for the news I bring you today is cause for joy," he said, his voice loud and commanding, diction clear and well modulated, for Thranduil was a master of rhetoric. "I hope you too, will rejoice with me, for I must now announce the existence of a fourth child, son of my blood, son of the House of Oropher…"

A gasp precluded the onset of frantic voices that rapidly rose to a din, many in genuine shock and curiosity, yet others were words of outrage, but all of them were Sindarin, for the Silvans stood silently, a knowing smile upon their faces, smiles that slowly widened until their teeth shone in the morning light, until all attention suddenly fell upon them as one elf proclaimed over the din…

"All hail The Silvan!" he cried, and a mighty cheer rang out loud and clear, before another voice proclaimed, "All hail Legolas Thranduilion!" The cheer was louder now as the Silvans raised their clenched fists as one. Aradan's fine hairs stood on end, his eyes frantically searching the faces of Thranduil, Rinion, Bandorion…

Some of the Sindarins chuckled at the Silvan antics, some stood frozen with indecision and others, those he already knew of, sneered arrogantly. All this he had expected, but there was one thing he could not have foreseen - the joy of the Silvans - that, and the fact that they had called Thranduil's son by his name - before the King had had time to do so.

They knew - they had always known and now, Aradan knew the Greenwood would be tossed into a heaving sea of strong wills and demands and that now, more than ever, this absurd rivalry between Sindar and Silvan, would come to a head, with Legolas in the midst of it.

TSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTS

Elrond, Glorfindel and Mithrandir took the evening meal in the rooms they had appointed to Legolas, for the elf had not woken yet. They had, however, conceded to allow Idhrenohtar to enter, for the elf had not taken no for an answer and had badgered them endlessly until they had acquiesced, albeit with the condition that Idhrenohtar must not intervene in any discussion that took place once Legolas awoke - that he would not touch or coddle, for Mithrandir had explained that Legolas' briefing, once he awoke, was the work of a wizard.

Idhrenohtar had promised to sit quietly in a corner and observe, in exchange for the privilege of being present - doomed though he was, to listen and keep silent. That did not mean he could not make himself useful though, and when the servants arrived with the trays of food, he was the one to take them at the door, and bar the curious stares the servants cast inside the room, for rumour was rife, Imladris turned into a mass of furiously whispering Noldor.

The lords stood, stretching their legs and making way for the trays which they sat upon the low tables.

"Idhrenohtar, join us?" said Glorfindel with a smile, a peace offering, thought the Wise Warrior as he stood and bowed, before approaching the group and sitting a little stiffly.

"Be at ease, Idhren, we are all here for the same reasons, even if you do not believe that," said the Commander as he bit into a leg of chicken somewhat unceremoniously.

"I do not doubt your concern for Hwindo - I mean Legolas, but I do doubt your love for him."

Elrond stared at the Silvan warrior for a moment, assessing him, it seemed. "They call you the Wise Warrior," said Elrond conversationally, "are you then, wise?" he asked as he bit into his own chicken a little more elegantly than Glorfindel had.

"It is what they say. I have a passion for philosophy, my Lord, always have done from the moment my tutor instructed me in rational thinking."

Elrond's eyebrows rose, clearly not having expected that. "Indeed?" he asked.

"It is indeed a strange pastime for one born into a family of Silvan warriors, but that does not bother me. My readings have held me in good stead for my training as a warrior, however much that might seem strange."

"No, no, I can see that," said Elrond, before Glorfindel spoke.

"You may be good with strategy," he suggested.

"Yes - I am an above average student in that field, my Lord, although it is Hwindohtar here who truly excels," he said, his eyes moving to the slumbering elf, a hint of worry behind his young blue eyes.

"Has he always been precocious?" asked Mithrandir.

"Oh yes, my Lord. Fighting comes naturally to him, as does leadership. What you have seen of him upon the fields so far, my Lord Glorfindel, is nothing, in comparison to what he is capable of."

"I know he is good, Idhrenohtar. I can see potential when I have it before me, but he must still have many things to learn," said Glorfindel evenly, still nibbling on his chicken bone.

"He holds back, my Lord. He does not wish to draw attention to himself, for to do so in the past often brought him strife," said Idhreno carefully.

"Oh?" asked Elrond.

"Indeed, not all the children were accepting of one so clearly above them in so many things. It was mine and Ram en Ondo's self-appointed duty to protect him from those that would hurt him."

"He was bullied, then?"

"In a sense, and for a while. Not physically but the names they called him cut him like a knife, my Lord - you can imagine the specifics, of course," he said quietly.

"Indeed," muttered Elrond as he wiped his hands on his serviette.

It was then, that Legolas stretched a leg and twisted onto his back, his slumber only slowly ending. He took a deep breath and then opened his eyes.

Mithrandir stood over him, with Elrond and Glorfiindel at his shoulders. Idhreno, as he had promised, stayed out of the way, albeit he missed nothing of what transpired.

"Legolas," called the wizard, addressing the young elf for the first time, aware that the child would not know who he was, but when his own blue eyes first beheld the slanted green eyes of the Silvan, he could not help but startle.

"My lady is capricious," he muttered as if to himself, but it had been loud enough for Glorfindel to hear, and to understand.

Legolas' eyes locked with those of the wizard, and there they stayed for longer than strictly necessary, before he spoke, quietly and evenly.

"Who are you?" he asked simply.

"I, am Mithrandir, the Grey Pilgrim, Gandalf, if you prefer," he said.

Legolas continued to stare at the old man, before he nodded, and then pushed himself up and leaned against the cushions behind him, his face rested and apparently serene.

"Legolas," asked Elrond, "how are you feeling?" he asked. "Are you hungry?"

"I am well, my Lord. I need nothing," he added, his voice soft and his eyes distant, only half present and perhaps that was, indeed, the case, thought Idhrenohtar.

"What can you tell us, child, of what happened in the forest?" asked Mithrandir matter-of-factly as he turned to the window.

"Nothing - for the moment," said Legolas in the same monotonous voice, a voice that seemed deeper to Idhrenohtar than it had been before.

"It is of vital importance that you tell us, child, if I am to help you with this - gift," he said, somewhat indignant it seemed, that Legolas had refused to speak.

"As I said, Mithrandir," he paused for a moment, his gaze steady and confident, "I will not speak of it for the moment. I wish for silence, and solitude, nothing more," he said levelly, and the Wise Warrior was proud of a sudden, that his friend should be so even tempered, so - authoritative - with such venerable lords that sought to push him into speaking.

"Silence and solitude," came the gruff voice. "Elrond, perhaps you can speak some sense into the boy," said the wizard in irritation as he walked out onto the balcony and tapped his clay pipe upon the hand rail before him.

Elrond stepped forward, and Legolas laid his eyes upon the lord, and if the Noldo had been about to speak, he thought better of it, for the green eyes of the Silvan were not welcoming, indeed they were bold and challenging. With a curt nod, he finally said, "eat something, Legolas," and then turned away to join Mithrandir on the balcony.

Collecting his feet below him, he slowly rose from the couch and turned to Idhrenohtar. "Can you find me a tunic, brother?"

Idhreno smiled, and then wider when it was softly returned, before leaving the room in search of something for his half-naked friend to wear.

Legolas turned then to Glorfindel who, as yet, had not spoken, indeed he sat cross-legged, staring at Legolas expectantly.

"They mean well, Legolas."

"I know. But I am not willing to speak of it. When I need to, I will - but not yet," he said again and Glorfindel's brows twitched as he observed the changes that had been wrought in him, wondering if they were extensive to his mind, for the boy seemed older some how, more mature, more confident.

"What will you do now?" asked Glorfindel, still watching Legolas closely, the play of his corded muscles as he reached for his boots.

"I would continue with my training, my Lord. I hope that will not change for I have much to learn from you," he said as he pulled the soft leather over his feet.

"Do you?" asked Glorfindel, drawing Legolas' attention to him once more. "Idhrenohtar says you hold back - afraid to stand out amongst the others," he said, watching his friend for a reaction.

"That was before, my Lord. I will not do that again and still - I say I have much to learn - that, and the Qalma Liltie, if you are still amenable."

Just then, Idhrenohtar returned with a blue suede tunic which Legolas slipped on over his black breeches, but his hair was trapped inside it, and try as he might, he could not free it.

"Here, let me help you with this -Lainion is going to have a fit," muttered the Wise Warrior, but Legolas did not laugh as he had expected, rather he smiled a sad smile and sat, his eyes distant once more.

"How can I braid this," he muttered again, but Legolas did not answer, for he was once again, far far away.

Minutes later, Elrond and Mithrandir watched as the strange Silvan elf walking into the gardens with his friends in tow, but there was one dark-haired elf amongst them - Elladan.

"Your son walks with them," commented Mithrandir as he puffed on his pipe.

"Aye," said Elrond pensively. "They are becoming good friends; Elladan has decided on a path, it seems."

"And what path is that?" asked Mithrandir, and Elrond could not tell if he already knew the answer to that question.

"The path of a warrior - and a healer."

"Is that all?" asked the wizard again and this time, Elrond knew he held back.

"Perhaps not," was all he said. But to give voice to what he suspected was to bring that eventuality to light, and that was not something Elrond wished to contemplate, not just yet.

TSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTSTS

For the next full day, Legolas simply sat in Celebrian's gardens, at the base of the winter blooming sentinel.

Some distance away, Elladan and The Company sat together in quiet conversation, one eye on each other and the other on Legolas. He seemed peaceful enough, indeed sometimes he even smiled, moving his head this way or that, as if he were listening to something others could not hear, indeed Elladan did not doubt that was exactly the case.

They would not intrude, would not push him into speaking of what had happened deep in the forest; they knew him well enough to know that he would not be forced, that he would speak in his own time, indeed he had refused to talk even to Mithrandir and Elrond.

Yet some things did not need to be given voice, for they were obvious enough to any who looked closely enough. Those four days had been life changing for Legolas. Whatever had happened had been enough to take away the last vestiges of childhood innocence, and in its absence, plant the seeds of a greater wisdom. It had lent him peace, it seemed, calm serenity, the kind of aura his father was capable of emitting, or indeed Galadriel herself.

There was a common denominator, Elladan was sure, yet he would not venture to understand the nature of it, not until Legolas spoke, if he ever did.

That night, when they had all gone their separate ways, Elladan made his way to his father's rooms. He found him sitting before a single candle upon the table, the Greenwood scroll before him, as yet untouched.

"May I join you?" asked Elladan, watching his father closely.

"Of course. I was about to read the missive from Thranduil," said the lord somewhat distractedly.

"Would you prefer I leave?" asked Elladan, hoping his father would allow him to stay.

"No, stay. But speak not of it, Elladan, whatever is contained in these lines - not until our council."

"Alright," agreed Elladan, settling into a chair and watching as his father slowly reached for the scroll and broke the seal with a crunch of wax that seemed overly loud to Elladan.

Pulling the curled edges apart, Elrond's light grey eyes began to dance over the parchment, and Elladan followed them, as if he could, perhaps, read his father's emotions, discern the contents of the letter on the strength of his expressions. But alas he could not and so he waited with baited breath until Elrond's eyes left the page and he looked squarely at Elladan.

"He is recognising his son. He is announcing his existence to The Greenwood even as we speak…"

Elladan was stunned, unsure of what to say, and as the information slowly sunk into his sluggish mind, a cautious smile broke out on his face. Could it be that simple, he wondered?

"A third prince then?" asked Elladan.

"No. Not a Prince, for he was born outside wedlock - it would not be acceptable. He says no more for the moment and I can only guess he wishes to gauge the reaction of his subjects before he takes any official action."

"Understandable," muttered Elladan, but the smile had not left his face and he suddenly wished he hadn't promised his father to remain silent, for there was nothing he wanted more now than to run to his new friend and wipe away the days of anxiety, the unbearable uncertainty he had suffered, not knowing if he was to be loved or repudiated."

"Elladan. Not a word. We do not know what the other missives contain - Legolas has one, too."

Elladan stared at his father, and then nodded. He was right, for who could guess what the king would say to the son he did not know?

Some corridors away, Handir sat in the privacy of his rooms, a scroll open upon his lap and a satisfied smile upon his face. A sudden wave of respect washed over him, for his father and his courage, in spite of the opposition he knew this decision would bring him. He was torn then, between finishing his education with Erestor, and flying back to the Greenwood, for he would be needed. Yet Aradan was there, and three months was not so long, and so, with a determined breath, he resolved to learn all he could from Erestor, and then return home and begin what had become the reason for his own existence. Restore Greenwood the Great to the cosmopolitan society it had once been, where peace and justice reigned over intolerance and racism.

Legolas sat cross-legged upon his bed, within the new suite of rooms he had been assigned, much to his own chagrin, for he was no lord, no prince to be given such deference. He was a warrior, with no rank or title and he was happy with that.

The scroll lay before him upon the white sheets, as yet unopened, and thus it had been for the past hour when he had retired for the evening and refused all offers of company. He needed solitude, for his mind was simply saturated with things he desperately needed to think on, to assimilate, to understand. Aye he knew they worried for him - The Company - for even now they sat under the cold winter moon outside, drinking wine and talking - of him no doubt. He could not blame them for that, for who could have foreseen that an insignificant provocation of his gift would trigger such a transcendental event - one he could not speak of - for where to start? The thought brought a chuckle of exasperation to his throat, and then he looked at the scroll once more.

What was one scroll now, to one that had seen things he had never thought to see in all the millennia of his life - even if it had been in dreams - if that is what they had been. Indeed of a sudden, Legolas understood that this missive was the last stone upon his road forward, the only thing that separated him from peace, at last, the last stone that would fit into the puzzle that had been his life until just days ago.

His hand reached for the yellow parchment and his eyes studied the seal - the royal seal of the House of Oropher…

With a steadying breath and an unsteady hand, he cracked the wax and pulled the scroll open, where graceful Tengwar sprawled out before him - the hand of his father, words that had come from his heart, that would seal his destiny.

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